Building trust and digital skills to solve the big challenges of our era
October 17 2021 04:23 PM
Bassam Hajhamad, Country Senior Partner, PwC Qatar
Bassam Hajhamad, Country Senior Partner, PwC Qatar


* In a fast changing region, Qatar is embracing technology to accelerate digital transformation and economic growth

PwC is reshaping its operations worldwide as we gear up to support governments and organisations transform in response to the megatrends, changing the way we live and work, and recover from the profound shock of Covid-19. As digital technologies extend their reach into almost every corner of our lives, and the impact of climate change continues , long-established priorities and decision-making methods are being called into question.

PwC and Qatar: Sharing a vision

It is against this global backdrop that PwC has launched its new global strategy, ìThe New Equationî. Drawing upon its talent, capabilities and technology, the firm has sought to better comprehend the forces at work around the globe and establish how governments, companies, and other organisations can best chart a way forward.

Here in Qatar, The New Equation fits closely with National Vision 2030, the government's framework for diversifying the national economy, empowering the private sector, and transforming the way the public sector serves the needs of citizens and society. The development framework was first set out in 2008, and rests upon four pillars: economic, social, human and environmental development.

As in other GCC countries, the pandemic has increased the sense of urgency around economic diversification and development, and as the Qatari government works to rebuild the economy, policy support should be focused particularly on six transformation themes: diversification and private sector development; fiscal management and innovation; digitisation; glocalisation and talent attraction; value creation, and energy transition and sustainability.

Our latest Qatar Economy Watch report highlighted the resilience displayed by Qatar's economy during Covid-19 and explored the economic transformation drivers supporting Qatar's National Vision 2030. The social development pillar of the Vision is reinforced through an increasingly sophisticated system of social protection, backed by public security, an expanding cultural scene and a focus on excellence in sport.

Environmental development is closely connected with the other three pillars, with a strong emphasis on ensuring that development is sustainable and goes hand in hand with protection of the natural world.

Despite the scale of the health and economic crises which faced the country last year, Qatar will benefit from several important drivers as it pursues its goals for 2030: the Qatar Investment Authority's assets can absorb economic shocks and support economic transformation plans; the restoration of travel and trade ties with neighbouring GCC countries supports regional integration, in contrast to the growing global polarisation trends, and trust in institutions has remained strong throughout the pandemic, as the government proactively managed the crisis with minimal disruption to the healthcare system.

Building trust in the Middle East

The final point stands the country in very good stead,there are two fundamental themes that business leaders, government leaders and community leaders are all facing:

First trust is essential for society to operate effectively. The second piece is that we canít be focused just on programmes and talk: we have to be focused more on sustained outcomes ñ outcomes that benefit the stakeholders.

PwC is setting out to reform its workforce to become a reservoir of  problem solvers, who can help our clients find sustained outcomes to the challenges they face. In the Middle East including Qatar, we are committed to hiring 6,000 people over the next five years, doubling our workforce in the region. The strategy aims to recruit 500 graduates every year from the region's universities and abroad, hiring equal numbers of men and women. The firm hopes 80% will be Arabic speakers.

Guided and mentored by existing talent, these recruits will provide the extra capacity for large-scale collaboration with governments and corporations to reshape their operations in response to the new imperatives we all face, enabling clients to deliver what they promise, through excellent performance in all they do.

Modeling what's possible in Qatar with the TASMU platform

One lesson we have seen clearly during the pandemic is that by working together, people can achieve radical innovation and change far faster than ever imagined ñ witness the development and roll-out of vaccines. We have also seen the scope for technology to rapidly transform our personal and professional lives, and more broadly, to facilitate accelerated societal and economic change.

Taking advantage of information and communication technology breakthroughs, including our growing ability to collect vast amounts of data and analyse them using artificial intelligence (AI), is at the heart of The New Equation thinking ñ and of the Qatar government's transformation strategy.

A perfect example of this is the Tasmu platform, launched on 7 July by Qatarís Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC). The platform, developed in collaboration with PwC and other partners including Microsoft and Atos, will be at the heart of digital services and smart solutions in Qatar.

With capacious cloud storage and high computing capacity, it will offer a wide array of services from payment gateways and data analytics to weather information and traffic control systems to both public and private sector developers and service providers across the country.

Working closely with the Qatar government on pioneering projects like this enables us to share our insights, but also to learn from others and develop our expertise. Itís a win for the partners, but the biggest winners will be the citizens and the economy of Qatar.

Walking the talk

A final feature of The New Equation is PwC's commitment to lead by example. Besides meeting its pledges on diversity and its determination to be an exemplary employer, the firm has committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

This is not just about switching to green energy. Rather, the firm will work with employees and other stakeholders to review who works where, when, and how they get there. We will engage with suppliers about their carbon footprint, and think about the future of work, and the need ñ or otherwise ñ to travel.

Partners and talent in the firm's offices in Qatar and across the Middle East will be every bit as engaged in this drive as their colleagues elsewhere.

Last updated: October 17 2021 07:12 PM

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